E is for Exhausted.
After publishing last week’s blog on being tired, http://sleepguyblog.com/not-natural-tired-time/ I saw the need to add some more information. Thus the reason for this follow up. In addition to that, I’ll also show you an often overlooked possible cause of why you’re fatigued and/or exhausted.
Tired, Fatigued, or Exhausted?
In last week’s article, I defined the difference between these three but focused mainly on tiredness. This week, I want to look at fatigue and exhaustion and briefly cover some treatment options.
Again, there’s a significant difference between these. It’s important that you know the difference so you can properly describe your symptoms to your Doctor. This will ensure proper treatment.
TIRED-You still have some energy. However, you can experience muscle weakness. You might also have some memory problems, but a good rest will clear things up
FATIGUE-lack of energy will be accompanied by difficulty concentrating; as well as difficulty sleeping. A rest might not help much, if at all.
EXHAUSTED-By now, you have more than just difficulty concentrating. You’re becoming confused, incoherent, and emotionally ‘numb’. Don’t even waste your time trying to nap at this point.
Tell it Like it is
In this section, I’ll go over some things to be aware of when talking with your Doctor. As you probably already know, it’s really important to accurately describe your symptoms to your Doctor. This will ensure you receive the right treatment. And of course, the more thorough your medical history, the better.
Common questions to ask, or info to include are:
- Current medications you’re taking, including any natural remedies
- Any heart disease or Diabetes in your family?
- Anything causing stress?
- Whether you did or still do smoke, drink alcohol, or take any illegal drugs.
- Specific information related to sleep patterns
- Accurately explain how you feel.
Next, you can use the following sections to help identify your problem areas. This is only a general guide to help you identify areas of concern to talk with your Doctor about. Simply go to the section that describes you.
You haven’t had a sleep study, and you’re fatigued and/or exhausted.
The following are good indicators you could have sleep apnea.
- You’re told you snore and/or you wake yourself up snoring.
- You wake up choking or gasping for air.
- You’re irritable, moody, and/or depressed.
- You’re tired, fatigued, or downright exhausted.
- Are you overweight?
- Have high blood pressure?
- Do you wake up with a headache?
Why is waking with a headache an issue? What happens is this. You breathe based on the amount of carbon dioxide ( C02) in your blood. When that level reaches a certain point, your brain sends a signal to breathe. This brings in fresh oxygen and gets rid C02.
But if your airway is closing off and you’re not breathing enough, C02 builds up in your body. And this causes headaches. That’s why morning headaches could indicate you have sleep apnea.
Also, remember that sleep apnea can also cause high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes, see http://sleepguyblog.com/alarming-truth-sleep-apnea/ Additionally, your fatigue and/or exhaustion could be due to something other than sleep apnea. I’ll cover that later in this article.
You have had a sleep study but are still fatigued and/or exhausted.
If you don’t use CPAP:
How long ago was your study? Have you gained a significant amount of weight since then? Any other health issues developed since then? Specifically heart or lung disease? You just might need CPAP now. If it’s been awhile since your last sleep study, and you now have any heart disease, talking to your Doctor about sleep study is even more important,
If you do use CPAP:
Are you having a harder time using the mask? Is your mask uncomfortable? Does the pressure seem too high? Too low? How old is your mask? Sometimes it’s just a matter of a mask adjustment, or changing to a different mask. Sometimes, you just need a change in pressure.
Do any of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?
Do you wake up and find that you’ve taken your mask off during the night? Or do you take your mask off because you can’t stand wearing it anymore? If so, are you using a nasal mask, but have a dry mouth in the morning? Could be that you’re breathing with your mouth, and need either a chin strap or a full face mask.
Has it been awhile since your last study? If symptoms have returned, it might be time for another sleep study. I would suggest you talk with your Doctor about any of these issues, being as thorough as you can.
But if you’re more than just tired, something other than sleep apnea could be the culprit. Next, we’ll take a look at a gland that is very critical to your health but often overlooked.
Stress, Fatigue and the Adrenal Glands
An Adrenal Gland sits right on top of each Kidney and helps you deal with stress. So, when you’re under pressure, these glands release hormones that send you into fight-or-flight mode. These chemicals are called Cortisol and Adrenalin. The 3 stages of your fight or flight response are 1-Alarm 2-Resistance and 3-Exhaustion (there’s that word again)
Symptoms of Adrenal fatigue include, among others:
- Trouble falling asleep.
- Sugar and salt craving.
- The need for caffeine or other stimulants to get you through the day.
The adrenal glands help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Therefore, if your adrenal glands are overworked because of stress, your sleep will suffer.
Click on the following link for some excellent information by Dr. Jill Carnahan.
Modafinil (Provigil)-It promotes wakefulness, but is not a stimulant; so it won’t ‘speed you up’ or make you jittery. In fact, it not only makes you more alert, it actually improves cognitive function, so that you can think more clearly. Available by prescription.
While conventional medicine is good, it mainly deals with effect, not cause. However, there are some good alternative treatments available.
There are some pretty good Herbal supplements available. However, what works for one person doesn’t work for someone else. Therefore, you might just want to experiment with some of them to see what will work for you. Also, knowing why you’re exhausted will help determine the right treatment for you.
There are a number of herbs that can effectively treat Adrenal stress. see https://holisticprimarycare.net/topics/topics-a-g/chronic-disease/1241-herbal-options-for-managing-adrenal-fatigue.html
If you’re having trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, Melatonin and Valerian Root have proven to be quite effective in many cases. Additionally, such things as Acupuncture and even meditation and prayer have gotten good results as well.
Many things can cause you to become fatigued or exhausted. And certainly, sleep apnea can be one of those things. However, because you are such a complex being, the answer isn’t always straight forward, or easy to see.
Therefore, knowing some basic definitions, and being able to more accurately describe your symptoms will assure better treatment. And using both conventional and alternative treatments together will give you the best of both worlds.
So how do you deal with stress? If you have a way that works for you, I’d really appreciate any feedback you have; so please leave a comment.